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LGBT Immigrants Hold Reform Rally in Front of White House: VIDEO

PROTEST

A group of LGBT immigrants rallied in D.C. Tuesday to protest the federal government's immigration policies in light of news that President Obama will not make a move on immigration reform until after Election Day, The Washington Blade reports.

Protestors wore red shirts that read "Immigration is an LGBTQ Issue," encouraging people to consider the intersections between these two political issues. 

A 28-year-old gay man, "Oliver" (pseudonym), shared his story of fleeing Nigeria to escape homophobia. In light of recent laws in Nigeria, he cannot return to his country, so "Oliver" spoke on the importance of maintaining America's asylum system.

Two pseudonymous speakers shared horror stories of being placed in America's detention centers, a man "Jose" and a transwoman "Fernanda."

"Jose" originally fled El Salvador for being sexually abused an harassed based on his sexuality. Of the detention center, he said:

I felt scared...One of the detainees openly said that he was gay, and he was literally insulated from everyone. No one wanted to talk to him; no one wanted to be with him. That made me feel threatened. That made me feel scared of saying something. Day by day, being in that horrible place, in that detention center, I was living my nightmare again.

"Fernanda" is 36, and fled violence she faced in her home country of Honduras. At the protest, she described her experience in a detention center, where she was placed with mentally ill people.

It is time for this country to turn our attention to understand the stories of trans woman in detention who are mistreated psychologically, verbally, who are repeatedly assaulted and attacked for being who they are.

Check out video of the rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo via Twitter)

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Senator Rand Paul Bolts As Anti-Gay Rep. Steve King Insults Immigration Activists: VIDEOS

Paul

In a video which has since gone viral, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas — two immigration activists advocating for the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act — confronted Iowa Republican Representative Steve King about his anti-immigration racism.

The video has partly become viral because it also shows Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul choking down the first bite of his hotdog and then running away with his beer the instant he hears that Andiola and Vargas are immigration activists. Paul supports increasing fortifications along the U.S./Mexico border but does not “think any type of immigration reform will get out of Washington that includes a path to citizenship.”

In the video, Andiola hands her DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) card to King and offers him the chance to tear it up. The DACA card basically gives undocumented people like Andiola the ability to stay in the U.S. for two years at a time without the threat of deportation, something the Secretary of Homeland Security put into place on June 15, 2012. King voted to end the program barely a week ago.

KingIn response, King refuses, condescendingly compliments Andiola’s English-speaking ability as a way to insist that she’s distorting his words, and then offers the circular reasoning that undocumented people are “lawless” criminals who should not stay in the U.S. while trying to gain citizenship.

At 4:04 a man comes up and tries to tell the recorder that she’s not allowed to record their conversation. At 6:30 an onlooker starts repeatedly telling them to “go home.”

In 2013, King infamously said "For every [undocumented immigrant] who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert." He also supported Arizona's failed "license to discriminate" bill that would have allowed religious business owners to refuse service or employment to LGBT people.

Both openly gay Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis and pop singer Ricky Martin called King out for his comments.

The Huffington Post provides some of Andiola and Vargas’ background:

Vargas and Andiola are prominent immigration activists and co-directors of DRM Action Coalition, a Dreamer-led group that advocates for reform. Andiola worked for bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) last year after receiving work authorization through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but left her job in December to fight her mother's deportation proceedings. She has been in the U.S. since she was 11 years old. Vargas, who came to the U.S. at the age of 5, passed the New York bar examination but can't fulfill his goal of practicing law in the military because of his undocumented status.

Andiola and Vargas made a follow-up video during which Andiola said that King “really showed his ignorance and his hatred toward us.”

Watch the videos AFTER THE JUMP…

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Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate Pledges To Stand Up To Gays, Immigrants: VIDEO

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Arizona gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas just released his first campaign ad. It states, “he’s the only candidate who has stopped illegal immigration, stood up to the gay lobby, and opposed liberal judges.”

Thomas helped write Arizona’s infamous “show me your papers” law requiring police to racially profile anyone they suspect of looking like an undocumented immigrant.

In 2010, he resigned as Maricopa County Attorney to run for attorney general of his state and lost. In 2013, he was stripped of his legal license and disbarred as an attorney. AZ Central explains why:

Among the most serious findings were that he and his former prosecutors pressed unwarranted criminal charges, obtained indictments, filed a federal racketeering lawsuit and initiated investigations against his political enemies and those of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from 2006 to 2010.

On the “Push Back against Liberal Bullies” section of Thomas' issues page, it reads:

Liberal professors and other zealots in higher education, subsidized by federal tax dollars, indoctrinate young people and stifle free political expression by conservatives and others at our colleges and universities.

Gay-rights activists assail anyone who believes in marriage between a man and a woman.

Unelected activist judges, appointed and egged on by Obama, rule by decree, gutting or throwing out our laws against illegal immigration.

Thomas ignores the fact that the judge who blocked key provisions of his “show me your papers” law was in fact appointed by former President Bill Clinton. And he has 

Not that it matters. Current polling has Thomas far behind Arizona’s other GOP gubernatorial candidates Ken Bennett and Doug Ducey — neither of whose websites even mention LGBT rights.

See Thomas’ ad AFTER THE JUMP…

Mexigov

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Gay Journalist and Immigration Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Detained by Border Patrol in Texas

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Jose Antonio Vargas, the openly gay Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who came out as an “undocumented immigrant” in a high-profile piece in the New York Times back in June 2011, was detained earlier this morning by U.S. Boarder Patrol agents in McAllen, Texas.

The Washington Post reports:

Jose Antonio VargasDefine American, the nonprofit U.S. immigration-reform campaign founded by Vargas, announced the detainment. In a statement Tuesday, Define American campaign director Ryan Eller said: “This morning, Mr. Vargas attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles, where we are scheduled to screen our film ‘Documented.’ Mr. Vargas did not make it through security at the airport. Our understanding is that he is currently being questioned by border patrol. The community leaders standing with me work with constituents and live this reality each and every day.”

Eller called on President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to exercise prosecutorial discretion and immediately release Jose Antonio Vargas from Customs and Border Protection custody.”

White House and U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesmen declined to discuss the detention further however. 

The Post adds:

Last week, shortly after his film, “Documented,” aired for the first time on CNN, Vargas wrote in a Politico magazine piece that he’d gone to the U.S.-Mexico border “to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor.” He wrote: “I realize that, for an undocumented immigrant like me, getting out of a border town in Texas — by plane or by land — won’t be easy. It might, in fact, be impossible.”

Vargas was held for 8 hours, according to the Washington Post. He was ordered to appear before an immigration judge.

[photo via Twitter]


NYC LGBT Leaders Endorse Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for Reelection

Three prominent LGBT organizations and six LGBT members of the New York City Council have endorsed New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured) for reelection. It's no coincidence that these endorsements fall on the one-year anniversary of DOMA's defeat; Schneiderman was an active opponent of the law, so the timing is symbolic.

SchneidermanIn their statements of endorsement, Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Méndez, Daniel Dromm, Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, and Ritchie Torres cite the Attorney General's strong track record of supporting LGBT rights. In addition to fighting DOMA and Prop 8, Schneiderman was a supporter of LGBT rights in the early 2000s, when being a vocal ally was less politically popular.

According to Councilmember Dromm: "Before [Schneiderman] was Attorney General, he worked with our LGBT community to pass SONDA [2002] and DASA [2010] in the State Senate, laws that provide important protections against workplace discrimination and school harassment."

Schneideman is also praised in the statements for his support for immigration reform via the DREAM act, which supports immigrant high school students.

Said Councilmember Menchaca:  "Attorney General Scheiderman has always championed fair treatment for all New Yorkers. That's why the LGBT community and all communities need him fighting by our side, and why I'm proud to endorse him for reelection this November."

Three prominent LGBT organizations joined in the endorsement:  Gay and Lesbian Independant Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and Lambda Independant Democrats of Brooklyn.

Said Schneiderman in response to the support: “I am incredibly grateful for the support of these Council Members and LGBT leaders. They know that our work to ensure equal justice for all New Yorkers is far from over. With their help and support, I look forward to continuing that fight for the next four years.”


Thursday Speed Read: Title IX, Rea Carey, Asylum Seeking, Ohio, Colorado, Maryland

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PROTECTION FOR NON-CONFORMING:

EducationThe U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Tuesday released guidelines to clarify for schools receiving federal aid that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination “extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” The DOE’s guidance makes clear that its Office of Civil Rights “accepts such complaints for investigation.” The guidance requires school officials to “investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence.” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey called it a “giant leap forward” toward “staggering rates of discrimination” against students who are transgender or non-conforming to gender role expectations.

NGLTF LEADER ARRESTED AT RALLY: Carey

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey was one of 27 people arrested for blocking an intersection on Capitol Hill Wednesday in a protest against the refusal of the Republican-led U.S. House to take up an immigration reform bill. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement organized the protest. NGLTF estimates that more than 250,000 of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are LGBT.

FOCUS ON ASYLUM:

Immigration Equality held a press conference in front of the White House Tuesday afternoon to urge President Obama to provide relief to LGBT people seeking asylum in the United States. The group says it has more than 300 clients in need of asylum. According to the organization’s website, persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status can be a basis for the Bureau of Immigration Appeals to grant asylum.

OhioNEW OHIO LAWSUIT:

Ohio civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein has filed another lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati seeking to strike down that state’s ban against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The lawsuit filed Wednesday, Gibson v. Himes, is being brought on behalf of six same-sex couples. Earlier this month, another Gerhardstein lawsuit won a ruling from a federal district court judge in Cincinnati to recognize the out-of-state marriages of four same-sex couples and put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children. That case is now on appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

ColoradoCOLORADO POLLS RISING?

A poll by Quinnipiac University of 1,298 registered voters this month found a whopping 61 percent support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Last December, Public Policy Polling surveyed 928 Colorado voters and found only 48 percent said they would support allowing same-sex couples to marry. The December poll, however, gave voters a choice of allowing gays to marry or have civil unions. Thirty-two percent were OK with civil unions. In terms of voters opposed, 18 percent said that in December there should be “no” legal recognition of same-sex relationships, 32 percent said they “oppose” allowing them to marry.

MarylandMARYLAND BALLOT BATTLE BREWING:

A Republican-led group announced Tuesday that it will seek a referendum this November on a bill passed by the Maryland legislature to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The governor has not yet signed the bill, the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, but is expected to. The group, MDPetitions.com, is referring to the measure as “The Bathroom Bill,” a moniker frequently used by opponents of gender equality to stir fears that the non-discrimination law will enable men to enter women’s restrooms to harass or attack them.” The group must first collect 55,736 signatures by June 30, including one-third of those by May 31.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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